Three Classic Copywriting Books For Direct Marketers

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There are tons of copywriting niches out there, such as advertising, marketing and public relations. Then there’s direct-marketing copywriting, which is a science and an art.

The goal of direct marketing or direct-response copy is to spur a prospect to take action. That action could be a subscription, order, purchase or simply a show of interest.

Writing direct-marketing copy is an involved process. You cannot just write the copy and say, “Hey this sounds good. I showed it to a couple of people and they liked it.” Successful direct-marketing copy involves psychology, word play and creativity, and its based on testing and results.

If you are working on direct mail, e-mail or any direct-marketing promotion check out these five classic books, written by direct-marketing masters. While some of these titles were written before the internet boom, the foundations of direct marketing, which the books discuss, remain unchanged.

1. “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples
John Caples is such a legendary copywriter that there is an international direct-marketing awards competition honoring his legacy. He spent more than 50 years in the advertising business and became the king of mail order copywriting. His ideas are the cornerstones for successful direct-marketing copy today and are still relevant, even in the digital world!

2. “The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells” by Bob Bly

It could be that I only like this guy for the great alliteration in his name. But seriously, Bly could write a client out of bankruptcy with one promotion. In his handbook, he walks readers through the business side and the creative side of running a successful copywriting operation. He covers all kinds of copy assignments from print ads to brochures and direct mail.

3. “On the Art of Writing Copy” by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Herschell Gordon Lewis, a.k.a. the godfather of gore (side note: check out his IMDB.com page), is one of the most successful direct-marketing copywriters of all time. While this book is a classic and discusses the cornerstones of direct-marketing copy, Lewis has also updated the book (in its third edition) to address writing for the Internet and discuss how changes in consumer attitudes have affected direct-response copywriting.